Three Connecticut Congressmen asked federal regulators to present more clarity on tribal gaming compacts with the state, paving the way for the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes to jointly establish the first tribal-owned casino on a non-tribal plot of land. The officials should present their final decision regarding the revenue-sharing terms, under which the two tribal casino operators will be allowed to break ground on their planned East Windsor gambling venue. That should happen in a timely manner, as the two tribal nations announced on Tuesday that they will start work on the project by the end of the year.
In a letter addressed to the U.S. Department of the Interior, three members of Connecticut’s Congress wrote that U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke should publicly approve amendments to the state’s tribal gaming compacts. The letter was sent on 2nd November this year, after the two tribal nations filed a similar request to the top official. Earlier this year, the tribe and the state submitted proposed changes to the slot agreements to re-negotiate a new compact. The Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs was the body to review the proposals. In mid-September, the bureau responded to the proposed changes, without making a cut and dry final decision.
But such a decision is of crucial importance for the two tribal nations to start working on the casino expansion project. Under the old gaming compact, the two tribal nations paid 25% of their slots revenues to the state of Connecticut. The state, on the other hand, would be in violation of the gaming compact if it authorized a non-tribal casino within its borders.
Changes in the Tribal Gaming Compacts
The proposed revised agreement ensures that the planned East Windsor casino is not to put at risk the revenue-sharing arrangement at the two current tribal-owned gambling facilities. The two tribal nations also agreed to pay $1 million each as initial payment and contribute $300,000 per year to fight gambling-related problems.
Last week, the two tribal nations announced that supposing the Bureau of Indian Affairs refuses to officially publish its response in the Federal Register, the tribes might take legal actions. Under the existing federal Indian gaming laws, supposing that the Bureau of Indian Affairs fails to make a cut and dry final decision, its answer is automatically viewed as positive.
This summer, Gov. Dannel Malloy inked legislation, allowing the construction of East Windsor casino on non-tribal land. The planned casino is set to be MGM Springfield’s main rivalry. MGM’s $950-million hotel and casino resort is planned to open doors in September 2018. The expansion of the gambling industry in the neighboring states hit the two tribal-owned casino venues’ profitability and their overall revenue sharply dropped. Hence, the two tribal nations decided to join forces and establish a gambling venue on a non-tribal land. The main hurdle was to receive an approval from the Connecticut’s officials, but eventually that obstacle was removed as the officials feared huge revenue losses.